FORMER Spartans academy graduate Jamie Dishington has enjoyed watching several members of the club’s under-20 team feature in manager Dougie Samuel’s first-team squad in recent weeks.
The 22-year-old midfield maestro has developed into a key figure in the champions’ starting line-up since he progressed up through the youth ranks alongside team-mates Blair Carswell, Adam Corbett and Blair Atkinson.
Dishington’s standout display against Gretna 2008 last weekend, which included a second-half brace, spread some festive cheer to the Ainslie Park outfit as they secured a fourth straight victory.
Spartans ended the game with EIGHT academy graduates taking to the field, and Dishington, pictured, who is closing in on his 150th appearance for the club, is hopeful many of them will follow in his footsteps over the coming years.
Ahead of tomorrow’s home North Edinburgh Derby against fifth-placed Civil Service Strollers which kicks-off at 2pm, Dishington said: “We all came through the academy at the same time together and it’s great to see the 20s boys stepping up recently.
“There’s always an eye being cast over them. When they come up, I always try to make them feel welcome and any knowledge or experience I can pass on to them can only be a benefit. I was in a similar position to them a few years ago; shy and not really talking to anyone, so it’s good to get them involved with the banter among the rest of the players in training.
“Dougie (Samuel) watches their training on the fly because the 20s train at the same time as us. He’s got a close connection with Les Atkinson who coaches them.
“The 20s games are on a Friday night as well, so the gaffer always gets feedback from those games. If he feels they’re performing to a consistent level, then he’ll call them over and get them involved in certain drills.”
Dishington knows Spartans can ill-afford any further slip-ups in their defence of the title this season as they seek to extend their unbeaten home record against Gary Jardine’s men, who have also enjoyed a revival of late.
The playmaker is confident both teams can serve up a post-Christmas cracker, but recognises dropped points could signal an end to their hopes of re-claiming the silverware for a third time.
He added: “You’re always in for a tough game against Civil and they’ve got a few former players in their team that used to play for Spartans.
“They’re normally well-organised and Gary (Jardine) has turned them into a difficult side to beat.
“Losing the amount of games like we did isn’t acceptable for a club like Spartans, so the last few weeks have been much better. I scored twice last week and have managed to add a few goals to my game so long may that continue.
“We need to take things on a game-by-game basis now. There’s no pressure on us anymore, so I can’t see why we won’t have a strong second half to the season.”
Meanwhile, basement boys Whitehill Welfare will hope they can spring a shock when they entertain high-flying BSC Glasgow at Ferguson Park.
Ian Little’s side claimed a welcome point from their trip to fellow strugglers Dalbeattie last Saturday but will face a considerably tougher task against an in-form BSC outfit.
Edinburgh University must also raise their game if the are to trouble title contenders Kelty Hearts at East Peffermill.